Here’s What’s Booming: $6.6 Billion Plowed into 2016 Election

Who are the top 10 donor families? “Familiar names…”

For the most cynical among us, democracy in the US is just a codified peaceful way of swapping out the figureheads at the top. For the less cynical, there is a lot more at stake, and they’re willing to plow huge amounts of money into these elections so that this money will help them accomplish their goals afterwards.

Putting money to work in politics is easy in the US. It’s considered a legitimate investment with some sort of return. You have to be really careless, totally uninformed, and completely devoid of common sense to commit illegal acts of corruption because there are a million ways to do this legally. And the amounts changing hands are enormous.

Nearly $6.6 billion: that’s how much candidates, parties, and outside groups are raising and spending in trying to move things their way in the 2016 election cycle, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates on its website, It’s a new record. It’s up by $86.5 million, adjusted for inflation, from the 2012 presidential cycle, which had also been a record.

Alas, it’s not over, and the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) hasn’t reported all the data yet, and some money doesn’t get reported at all. We’ll get to that in a moment. Hence the report: “The cost could be much higher – this is a conservative estimate.”

The good thing is that this spending adds to GDP and to a lot of corporate bottom lines via ad sales, loads of traffic, fees, and so on. Google, CNN, Fox News, other cable channels, ad agencies, companies printing fliers in China, consulting firms, law firms, and many others are laughing all the way to the bank. It’s sort of an electoral stimulus program funded largely by deep and not so deep pockets. But that’s about the only good thing.

The biggest increases in money flows, compared to 2012, came from outside money groups “that purportedly work independently from candidates,” the report said. They’ve greased this election with $1.3 billion so far (through October 24), $190 million more than at this point in 2012, accounting for 26.8% of total spending, up from 24% at the same point in 2012. Of that moolah, 56% came from Republican groups and 37% from Democratic groups.

And it’s getting more concentrated: “The top 100 families” contributed $654 million to candidates, political parties, and outside groups so far, or 11.9% of the total raised, up from 5.6% in the 2012 election cycle (blue if focused on Democratic groups, red if focused on Republican groups, table by CRP). “Their names are familiar….”


The presidential races alone spent over $1.13 billion so far, up 24% from the $913 billion they’d spent at this point in 2012.

According to CRP, this election cycle “has brought many record-breaking moments when it comes to financing,” including these:

Trump’s historic lows: The Donald was lax in filling his campaign coffers, not sending a fundraising email until mid-June 2016. In fact, he has brought in the smallest sum of any general election candidate since 2000 (when federal matching funds were still a thing) at $169.5 million as of Sept. 30. The real estate magnate also has injected his campaign with $56 million (about half of the $100 million he repeatedly vowed he’d supply); that makes up more than a quarter of the campaign’s funds.

Clinton, in comparison, has brought in $445.4 million so far.

The Bush money train: Jeb Bush and his supporting super PAC, Right to Rise USA, showed that money isn’t everything. The group raised $121 million and held the record in amount spent by a presidential super PAC, long after Bush’s departure from the race in February.

The pro-Clinton Priorities USA Action managed to take over first place just three weeks ago.

Then there was “the rise of the small donor.” Bernie Sanders set a new record in percentage terms, at 59% of his total contributions, beating Obama’s percentage record, but not his dollar record. The $134.6 million that small donors contributed to Bernie’s campaign is about 50% higher than Clinton’s small donor contributions and over double that of Trump’s. But Bernie was just doing it in the primaries. No one knows how much he could have collected from small donors had he made it into the final race.

CRP executive director Sheila Krumholz summarized the money flows this way:

“While this campaign saw the rise of the small donor and a fall in spending reported by groups that hide their donors, overall, important trends hold true: More money is still coming from a tiny set of elite donors. It’s going to super PACs that are scarcely independent of the campaigns they support. And it’s targeting competitive races where the vote will be closest and the opportunity to have an impact, greatest.”

The report also noted that Trump’s unpopularity “among establishment Republicans in particular” has caused “major players like the establishment-linked Crossroads network and Koch-backed nonprofits like Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners to spend their money elsewhere, particularly in tight Senate races.”

Spending in Senate races, as disclosed to the FEC, has surged by $137 million from 2012 at this point!

And much of this activity in down-ballot races was never logged with the FEC because it was framed as “issue” advocacy outside the time periods when such advocacy has to be reported.

This tactic of stealth political advertising has become the hallmark of nonprofit groups that want to spend tens of millions of dollars in elections without reporting that to the IRS. By January 2016, dark money groups had already spent more than $30 million on election-related activity, and less than a third was reported to the FEC.

Groups like the Crossroads-linked One Nation on the right and Majority Forward on the left would go on to spend tens of millions, regularly avoiding filing reports with the election agency. One Nation alone has spent about $30 million in 2016, but has reported less than $3 million of that to the FEC. The trick of timing its ads before the agency’s reporting window opened on Sept. 9 could allow it to claim that its unreported spending was “educational” when it files its tax returns in November 2017.

All in all, this unreported spending probably adds between $50 to $75 million, possibly more, to the total amount of dark money spending that has been reported.

And what do we get for all these enormous and wondrous efforts and these piles of money? The best politicians money can buy.

Whoever wins this money game won’t be able to bask in the warm glory of the rosy economic scenario, however. Read…  What’s Really Different this Time: Business Investment Drops to Lowest September since 2010

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  69 comments for “Here’s What’s Booming: $6.6 Billion Plowed into 2016 Election

  1. Sabbie says:

    Jimmy Carter financed both of his presidential runs with 100% public money from that little check box on your tax return, raised $0 from private interests.

    • Bill says:

      Yet, he still was the 2nd worst POTUS ever.

      • Tom Kauser says:

        I thought Nancy did a wonderful job as puppet master!

        • d says:

          “I thought Nancy did a wonderful job as puppet master!”

          Yes, Hillary will only be the first Official woman POTUS.

      • TJ Martin says:

        Care to explain that moment of complete and utter RNC addled illogic and Breitbart conspiracy theory ?

        Serioulys Bill .. the only thing Carter did wrong was to tell this nation what it needed to hear [ to downsize and consolidate ] … rather than what the delusional amongst wanted to hear [ More – More – More ]

        And as for that dementia addled RNC ‘ puppet ‘ that succeeded Carter that had conversations with his bedside table thinking it was a former actress he’d had an affair with ? Suffice it to say 90% of the problems we’re now facing … including the farce posing as a presidential candidate Trump … all have their roots in the Reagan presidency . Or should I say .. the RNC Puppet Show starring Ronald Reagan

        • Ditto ! ~ Well Said…..

        • CaptainConspiracy says:

          I like you’re breitbart qualifier, thats a new one.

          Whats the difference between a bb conspiracy theory and a regular conspiracy theory? What if someone else owns the conspiracy theory, whats your conspiratorial opinion on that?

          MediaMatters conspiracy theory, good?
          Breitbart conspiracy theory, bad?

          The federal reserve note has lost over 90% of it’s purchasing power since 1913, when self described “progressive” president, woodrow wilson, signed the federal reserve act.

          Who owns that conspiracy theory?

          Everyone in the US is a conspiracy theorist according to the declaration of independence…the king wasn’t actually doing all those things listed, it was just the America first party making stuff up.

          British America has gone down hill ever since it seperated from the empire of morality.

          Damn Reagan, Carter, and all the disloyal subjects!

        • Beth says:

          Very,very,very,very, and verily I say unto you: What you have uttered is the truth may God bless you with 777 billion dollars in small bills. Just remember me…

    • VK says:

      Makes sense. The US govt spends $3,600 Billion in expenditure annually, so $7 Billion every 4 years is an overall pittance. Just 0.05% of the 4 year total expenditure. If that’s what it takes to create a cleaner system, why not?? If politicians didn’t require funds to sustain them and run their campaigns they wouldn’t be forced to sell out the public.

  2. Paulo says:

    This is the way for fair elections (public funding):

    You have to get private interests out of the process as much as possible.

    ” Canada’s federal election finance laws put limits on contributions to political parties and candidates. Only individuals — not corporations or trade unions — may donate. Contributions are limited to up to $1,500 a year to each political party and up to $1,500 to all of the registered electoral district associations, contestants seeking the party’s nomination and candidates for each party. In addition, donors may give up to $1,500 to leadership contestants for a party as well as up to $1,500 to independent candidates. These limits were set in 2015, and the amounts increase by $25 each year. Political actors must disclose the names of anyone who donates more than $200.
    Public Funding

    Canada’s system of party and election finance regulation provides two forms of state funding to political parties and to candidates.

    First, political parties and candidates receive a reimbursement of some of their election expenses. Political parties that received either 2 per cent of the national vote or 5 per cent of the vote in the districts in which they ran candidates receive 50 per cent of the money they spent as a reimbursement. Candidates who received at least 10 per cent of the vote receive 15 per cent of the election expenses limit in their district as a reimbursement. In addition, if the candidate spent at least 30 per cent of the limit during the election, the reimbursement increases to 60 per cent of what the candidate spent during the election.

    Second, Canada provides generous tax credits for donations to political parties and candidates. The first $400 of donations receives a 75 per cent tax credit; the amount between $400 and $750 receives a 50 per cent credit. Amounts over $750 receive a 33 per cent credit. An individual’s total tax credit in one year cannot exceed $650.

    Political parties and candidates face limits on the amounts they may spend during an election. Political parties may spend 73.5 cents for every voter in districts where they are running candidates. For their local campaigns, candidates may spend an amount based on the population of the district in which they are running, typically between $75,000 and $115,000. If the election campaign is longer than 36 days, as was the case in 2015, the limits for both parties and candidates are increased proportionately.

    Groups or individuals other than political parties and candidates may spend no more than $150,000 to try to persuade voters during an election, and no more than $3,000 of that may be spent in any one district. Critically, all of these limits to spending apply only during the election period — between when the writs of election have been issued (when the election is officially called) and election day. ”

    • Paulo says:

      Needed to add:

      The election cycle is usually around 30-60 days….and not the almost 2 years as seen in the US. That is the best part!!!!

      Do you know, we never even hear about even one aspect of where a political leader worships, or if he/she does? That may really be the best part!!!!

      • I think adopting this model for the US would be great…… But I believe Hell would actually freeze over first…..

        A great addition to this would be 30 to 60 day campaigning only, and outlaw polling. no polls of any kind can be taken, or spoken about. NO Primaries, all who start also finish. And comprehensive data from their previous voting records on positions are used in campaign material, Any lying is grounds for immediate removal from the campaign. This way, with especially the last clause, it will be possible for the best candidate to get in….. Often sited in humorous posters around town…. “Nobody for President” As in No One will lower your taxes, No One will etc…… etc…


    • Marty says:

      And yet, Canadians still manage to elect lap dogs for DC every single time. Now, do you suppose that’s an accident? Tptb will always find a way to get what they want, public financing or not.

      • subunit says:

        Yeah, our campaign finance laws are better but it’s no panacea. If all you have is neoliberal consensus parties, the fact that the elections themselves aren’t literally bought doesn’t necessarily help a lot. Add to that the thorough infiltration of our gov’t by CCP/PSB spies and honeypots by the mid 2000s (see former CSIS analyst Michel Juneau-Katsuya on this) and it’s just a different kind of corruption on behalf of a different class of capital.

    • Tim says:

      Paulo, what do you think about this? direct referendums on issues, with accountable voting/paper trails so that electronic voting machines can’t steal the results? With referendums, we could bypass the corrupt legislative process, and the ex officio systems.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Let me shed some doubts on this. We have referendums on dozens of items in California (state and cities) at this election. We have paper ballots that work great. And we can’t bypass the “corrupt legislative process.”

  3. Petunia says:

    Politics is now a business like any other. The interesting thing about all the ad spending is that nobody is watching. While the spending is high, the cable companies are losing subscribers by the thousands. The internet users are blocking ads or just avoiding the sites with too many ads. Nobody buys newspapers or magazines anymore.

    Most of the ads I’ve seen on tv were being discussed on news shows. If they weren’t being talked about I would never have seen them. The millennials aren’t watching either and haven’t ever watched. The ads are turning out to be a waste of money.

    The polls are not much better. Like the bond rating agencies, you can buy the results you want. Hillary spent 600K of State Dept. money buying likes on FB, what a waste of money.

    We do have the govt we deserve.

  4. Chicken says:

    There’s no need in sane conversation anymore.

  5. Mary says:

    Commenters so far seem to think that if we just sat up and paid attention, or looked at how other countries do it, the buying and selling of the American political system would be an easy problem to solve.

    But we are now living with a series of Supreme Court decisions that equate money with protected speech. Law after law that placed limits on campaign spending has been declared unconstitutional.

    I’d use the analogy of a runaway train, but that implies there’s an endpoint. Whereas what Wolf describes is really the new normal.

    • Petunia says:

      I actually don’t care about the amount of money in politics, as long as it is all disclosed. I think most of the money is wasted. Sheldon Adelson gave 10M to Romney and it was totally wasted. Jeb Bush raised and spent 110M, all also wasted. Jeb’s spending per vote in one state was over 2K per vote. I might have voted for him for 2k.

      • marty says:

        You should care about the money in politics, in that it is a measure of the systemic corruption. Nobody would pour this kind of money into politicians pockets unless they got something for it. Any you can bet they are not buying free speech.

        • Petunia says:

          When the source of the money is disclosed, at least you know who the politicians really represent, who they belong to.

        • Chicken says:

          I figure if you can buy a presidential candidate for $50k that can get you $1B or even more so it’s a great opportunity for TBTF and the public accepts this without batting an eye. So who’s to blame?

        • walter map says:


          “When the source of the money is disclosed, at least you know who the politicians really represent, who they belong to.”

          So you know which crooks paid the propaganda bills for the crooks you elected – after the fact. How exactly does this help you?

        • Petunia says:


          There are so many ways to bribe people it is just easier to know who really owns them. Remember Hillary’s 100k profit from cattle trading. Do you really think that wasn’t a bribe? I’m sure she knows exactly how to trade cattle futures. I’d rather know who the trader who handled the trades was because then I could figure out how he was paid off.

        • walter map says:


          “I’d rather know who the trader who handled the trades was because then I could figure out how he was paid off.”

          Again, how exactly does this help you? As a DC insider she won’t be going to jail, and corrupt pols only lose to other corrupt pols.

          And don’t discount HRCs investment skills with livestock futures. Being married to Bill, it’s likely she only needed to rely on her expertise with pigs.

        • Edward E says:

          Petunia, Tyson Foods executives were handling the trades for Hillary Clinton back in 1979. Two sided transactions placed in the morning and allocated to the buyers and sellers at the end of the day. So guess who got all the winning trades? Hillary gets all the winners and Tyson Foods took the losers. Then when Bubba Clinton became governor of Arkansas Tyson Foods was rapidly exempted from any environmental responsibilities having to do with the chickens.

        • Lee says:

          Then I guess that we should all look at the money the Clinton’s raised from speeches…………..

          I wonder what they ‘were buying’?

        • Petunia says:

          Edward E,

          I already knew about the cattle trades. But if a 100K donation had been disclosed in place of the bribe, everybody would have known to expect Tyson to get special treatment and why. Sunshine is always better in these situations.

      • Tom Kauser says:

        Trump pays his human backdrops as campaign staff

    • Robert says:

      That Supreme Court decision was a disgrace. In 1970, Congress passed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio starting on January 2, 1971. None of this “all speech is protected and spending money is speech” BS. It was a matter of public health being a priority then, and it should be a recognition of corruption in making elections a matter of yielding to the highest bidder today. If a ban on smoking ads could be enforced (as a ban on TV dugs ads should be today), then there is no reason that public campaign funding could not be mandated as well. Writing your bought and paid congressman may be a waste of time, but it might be worth writing to a Supreme Court Justice, if for no other reason than to shame them awake.

      • Petunia says:

        The unlimited money doesn’t bother me as much as the corporations are people doctrine. The ability of a person to spend is a freedom and privacy matter, a constitutional right, in my estimation.

        The concept that a corporation is a person goes against the definition of how a corporation is defined. I was taught back in Econ 101 that a corporation is a “going concern with unlimited life”. Until people live forever and corporations are subject to arrest, the definition of person and corporation are not equivalent. Really simple. The court made a huge mistake because they know a lot about laws and nothing about living in the real world.

        • TJ Martin says:

          Amen Petunia on the Corporation as a Person comment . Though we completely disagree when it comes to the ludicrous and vulgar amounts of money being spent on elections that could be put to much better use than the onslaught of TV , Radio and Print ads … the constant to the point of harassment barrage of phone calls and internet spam … the piles of wasted paper sent via the USPS [ my recycling bin over floweth ] ongoing propaganda etc which of late resembles more a Daytime Reality TV show than a political campaign .

        • d says:

          “The court made a huge mistake because they know a lot about laws and nothing about living in the real world.”

          SO SO Hugely wrong.

          They know about living in Washington, where only house and senate members are immune to insider trading prosecution.

          They know about how the American political system work’s, and they just made it legally easier, for the people who fund it, to do so.

          Presidents pick the judges an dteh house has oversight.

          Other judges who do not and never will sit on SCOTUS, should pick the SCOTUS Judges, and the house should have a much limited oversight.

          Which will never happen as the American political system is a career politician Corporate owned partisan duopoly.

          The senate make up ensures this.

  6. Gian says:

    We’ve seen before where money does not buy elections and if Trump wins, this fact will once again be validated. As such, the Democrat’s propensity to win by fraud and cheating is much more concerning than the billions “invested” by crooked lobbyists. Buying votes, although disgusting, is more palatable than stealing votes through Democrat sanctioned fraud.

    • night-train says:

      Both parties have their share of sins and dirty deeds. Remember Nixon? The Watergate debacle was a clumsy break-in in an election that was never even close. And a Trump voter was arrested in Iowa for voting twice. So if you are looking for the political party of the Saints, you won’t find them in this election.

      • Petunia says:

        Our 3 mail in ballots for the GOP primary in FL went missing. I don’t know if the elections office in the primarily democrat district didn’t send them, or if they were stolen by a postal worker in the primarily democrat postal zone. Mail ballot fraud in FL is HUGE.

      • TJ Martin says:

        Nixon ? Hell .. remember the RNC’s behind closed doors actions to put McCain aside in favor of the American Idiot GWB in the 2000 primaries ? Remember GWB round two and FloridaGate ? Seen all the redrawn districts in states across the Nation designed to favor wealthy RNC voters and negate minorities and the poor ? And don’t even get me started when it comes to the RNC and RNC influenced abuses of the still existing HUAC and their FBI minions . Hell .. you could write a 25 volume encyclopedia on the sins of the RNC since Eisenhower

        • Petunia says:

          Before you go blaming the republicans for all the redrawn white republican districts, go to Cspan and check out a video on the book “Rat F’ked” (that’s really the title).

          The author discusses how the republicans colluded with black democrats to redraw districts, so that blacks candidates would always be in black districts that black democrats could win.

          They say politics makes strange bed fellows. This is why.

  7. sinbad says:

    This isn’t news, the US Presidency has always gone to the highest bidder.
    This is just a case of inflation.

  8. walter map says:

    “We’ll Get the Best Politicians $6.6 Billion Can Buy”

    Yeah, but you can’t return them when they turn out to be defective.

    It’s said that Americans get the government they deserve. That should terrify you.

  9. Dan Romig says:

    My home state of Minnesota has paper ballots that are marked by voters’ hands before being rad by machines. Ask Norm Coleman and Senator Franken about this. A god-damned paper trail people!

    Sixteen states have paperless ballot machines from Smartmatic. You know, the Mark Malloch-Brown and George Soros company.

    Can you say, “The fix is in?” Sure, I knew you could. Debbie Wasserman Shultz as head of the DNC was not biased against Bernie and company was she?

    Sadly, as a Libertarian, my candidate asks, “What is Aleppo?”

    I reckon I’ll write my name on the ballot in eight days. I won’t win, but I am honest, and haven’t sold my soul!

  10. d says:

    Under the current Globalised Vampire Corporate and Oligarchy controlled Duopoly in America, you will not get, Electoral finance, or Tax reform.

    What to do?

    How to start?

    The only opening left is a term limits campaign, for all elected offices in the US.

    With a mandatory holiday between offices, so that career politicians, can not simply walk up a ladder to the Senate/White house.

    Electorates frequently elect the leaders and administration they deserve.

    America deserves trump, and the damage he would do to it.

    The world dosent deserve trump, and the damage he would do to it.

    Just as it didnt deserve O bummer and the damage he has done to it.

    • walter map says:

      “America deserves trump, and the damage he would do to it.”

      Lincoln presided over the destruction of two percent of the population, and he is considered a great president. Similarly, Trump promises to be an even greater president. Besides, Putin likes him. That’s got to count for something.

      Trump has the morals of a famished barracuda. HRC, by contrast, has no morals. You might like to start gearing up impeachment proceedings in case one of them wins.

      • night-train says:

        Well, at least the new Civil War is going to be fun. Since there isn’t a chance that either side is going to accept the election results. Glad I am too old to care all that much. But, we do live in interesting times.

        But seriously, I fear we are so divided as a people, our grand experiment in democracy may be failing. There are serious problems that need cooperation from both sides of the isle to solve. If we don’t find some common ground soon, your children and grandchildren may pay the price. The stakes are very high. I hope we are up to the challenge.

        • d says:

          Due to its Election funding models.

          America no longer has a Democracy.

          it has a Globalised Vampire Corporate (Currently allied with china) and Oligarchy owned, and controlled. Duopoly.

          No matter who is elected, the above, call the shots


          Where the Politicians take money from Corporates and the Corporate owned media. Tells the public who to vote for. Then once elect, those politicians, do what their Corporate owners, tell them to.

          Americans call that democracy.

          I am not sure what to call it, apart from deeply flawed, and deeply corrupt.

          However, I know, it is not Democracy.

        • walter map says:

          “Well, at least the new Civil War is going to be fun.”

          The old Civil War never ended. The South is still fighting it.

          America was founded on genocide and slavery. Genocide and slavery are its destiny.

          The money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.

          – Abraham Lincoln

      • Edward E says:

        Just a quick thought, possibly the deep state is looking to the VP’s as the next eventual POTUS? Who else is in the teams. After all, this election has gone down to seeking an eventual pardon(s).

  11. Ptb says:

    I always thought that the name “Supreme Court” sounded like something from a banana republic or a middle eastern country. Citizens United kinda helped confirm this.

  12. Kasadour says:

    I wish my dad were alive to see this. Although, he may not believe it with his own eyes. My relatives in Saarbrücken, Germany can’t even believe it. It’s an amazing spectacle.

    Trump for POTUS? Ok!!!

    • VK says:

      Would you rather neocon HRC get in office and initiate WWIII with Russia and risk all life on Earth?

      “The American-led international order that has been prevalent since World War II is now under threat,” said Martin Indyk, who oversees a team of top former officials from the administrations of Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton assembled by the Brookings Institution. “The question is how to restore and renovate it.” The Brookings report — a year in the making — is due out in December.
      Taken together, the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe.
      The studies, which reflect Clinton’s stated views, break most forcefully with Obama on Syria. Virtually all these efforts, including a report released Wednesday by the liberal Center for American Progress, call for stepped-up military action to deter President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Russian forces in ­Syria.
      “You can’t pretend you can go to war against Assad and not go to war against the Russians,” said a senior administration official who is involved in Middle East policy and was granted anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

  13. mvojy says:

    This is why the SCOTUS got it wrong with Citizens United. These political action committees (PAC’s) have raked in tons of dark money and are anything but independent of the candidates. The way we learned how our democracy works in school is MUCH different of how it is working in reality. We are only ensuring that we are ruled by the elite and well-connected instead of being represented by the best candidates.

  14. Winston says:

    “For the most cynical among us, democracy in the US is just a codified peaceful way of swapping out the figureheads at the top. For the less cynical, there is a lot more at stake, and they’re willing to plow huge amounts of money into these elections so that this money will help them accomplish their goals afterwards.”

    Those are just two sides of the same coin.

    The voters have now begun to realize the farce of voter control due to bought government which then produced BOTH Sanders and Trump.

    Those who buy the pols love the system as it is as do the media organizations who make so much money from the (intentionally) ridiculously long campaigns that therefore require huge sums to run and, as a result, produce nothing more than a endless series of bought and paid for RINOs and DINOs not beholden to anyone other than their moneyed owners, unless a candidate can fund their own campaign.

    From the groundbreaking 2014 Princeton University study which received so little attention in the US:

    Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens


    A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.

    Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

    In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.

    …the preferences of economic elites (as measured by our proxy, the preferences of “affluent” citizens) have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do. To be sure, this does not mean that ordinary citizens always lose out; they fairly often get the policies they favor, but only because those policies happen also to be preferred by the economically-elite citizens who wield the actual influence.

  15. Winston says:

    “The ‘establishment’ composed of journos, BS-Vending talking heads with well-formulated verbs, bureaucrato-cronies, lobbyists-in training, New Yorker-reading semi-intellectuals, image-conscious empty suits, Washington rent-seekers and other ‘well thinking’ members of the vocal elites are not getting the point about what is happening and the sterility of their arguments. People are not voting for Trump (or Sanders). People are just voting, finally, to destroy the establishment.” – Facebook comment made on 7 Mar 2016 by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, scholar, statistician, risk analyst, and author of the 36 week NYT Best Seller “The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable”

    “Nassim Taleb is a prickly arrogant SOB who doesn’t give a cr*p what intellectuals, academics, and other establishment elitists think about him. He has an Ivy league MBA, but despises everything about the curriculum of Ivy League MBA programs. He has a PhD, but scorns academics and their worship of theories and models. Taleb has called for cancellation of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, saying that the damage from inevitably flawed economic theories can be devastating and he urges that banks be treated as utilities forbidden to take potentially lethal risk. He enjoys poking holes in the storylines of the propaganda spewing corporate media. He glories in ridiculing the predictions of captured “experts” mouthing the talking points of whichever corporate interest is paying them blood money. He wrote his brilliant Black Swan book back in 2006, a book released in early 2007 which was a powerful tome credited with predicting the financial collapse in 2008.”

  16. Tom Kauser says:

    Bailout for Mr. Trump and a future career running for the top elective office?

  17. Tim says:

    US democracy, a codified system to prevent democracy. If voting mattered, you couldn’t do it.

    • Bastiat says:

      Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, arguing about what to have for dinner.

      So how does the lamb not get eaten?

      A law that states wolves can’t eat lambs, which is why the US is a constitutional republic.

      Define “republicanism” and you’ll know more then 99% of Americans. Not the party, just in case you’re confused, but the political term.

  18. Johnny McTonny says:

    BILLIONS that could of been used to help the poor. Greed on an unknown level exhibited by the richest.

  19. Edward E says:

    Billions more won’t be going to the poor…

    Last minute, Adelson flushes Trump campaign with cash — The JPost

    When all else fails, blame the Russians!

  20. Jonathan says:

    As long as most “people” aka despicable fools are still plugged into the proverbial Matrix, they will feel nothing in the face of overwhelming injustice for the very simple reason: they WANT to be the wielders of said injustice along with all the perks even the chance of getting there is next to zero. It runs along the same logic of the scam called lottery.

  21. Julian the Apostate says:

    A very interesting debate. I’ve always seen Citizens United as an extension of MAD (mutually assured destruction) for those of you too young to remember it. Had the case gone the other way it would have done nothing to curb the deep pockets on the Left, trust fund kids, labor unions et. al. For those of you who think those Billions should go to the poor, we have been fighting ‘the war on poverty’ since LBJ. Poverty won. Besides, IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY. It is the tax-payers’. During the national debate over ratification of the Constitution one side argued that a Republic had never been successful in any polity larger than a city-state. Perhaps they had a point.

  22. Harvey says:

    This article makes me feel sad. That money could have so many alternate uses.

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